Thursday, September 1, 2011
In Defense of JCPenney: Too Pretty to do Homework
I know I am supposed to be outraged with JCPenney for "The Shirt" which they pulled from their online store yesterday. I have two little girls. I see the kind of stuff that their friends wear and often shake my head and wonder what their moms were thinking when they agreed to let their daughters dress like dime-a-dance girls. I understand the frustration at seeing girls pushed down a stereotypical path from the time they wear that first pink onesie. I get it, really I do, but I also don't think a tee shirt with a funny saying is going to send my girls on a downward spiral ending with them dropping out of school in favor of beauty queen dreams.
This shirt is targeted squarely at my daughters' age group. I am the mom who might be faced with buying this shirt. Since my kids don't have brothers they probably wouldn't ask for it, but if they did have a brother, and they wanted this shirt, and it was within my carefully honed back-to-school budget, then I would let them take it home.
Am I insane? Am I a horrible mother? Am I caving to the media and corporate evil-doers bent on turning my child into a vapid airhead who cares more about lipstick than grades? I'm sure some people will say yes, but I know myself and I know my girls and nothing could be further from the truth.
I spend a lot of time talking with my kids, really talking, and encouraging them to make positive choices and smart decisions. I teach them to do the right thing, to stand up for themselves and their friends, and to be confident and proud. I am, afterall, a geek raising two little geek girls. I have faced no small amount of attitude from people who think I'm odd and surely at some point they will, too. I want them to be certain enough of themselves that what a person (or shirt) says doesn't define their self-worth.
And although I let them make their own decisions as much as possible, I am the Mom so I do steer them when they're headed in the wrong direction. Me. The Mom. Not JCPenney. I have enough confidence in my kids to know that they won't be swayed by silly sayings on a tee shirt. It might make them laugh, but it won't mark their moral decline.
I don't think anybody, including the folks at JCPenney, believes that girls are too pretty to do their own homework or that they should force their brothers into servitude. I doubt there are any kids that think so, either. I would bet though, that there are more than a few girls that hate homework, argue with their brothers, and would like nothing more than to sit and relax while those brothers did their homework. Too pretty? Of course it's ridiculous. The whole premise is ridiculous which is what makes the shirt funny, not the harbinger of doom for little girls everywhere.